Jesus, after feeding the 5,000, went across the lake (or should we say “walked” across the lake) to get to the other side. We all know the story. His disciples were exhausted. They went to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee to get away from people. Instead, they were met by thousands of desperate, hungry people. Jesus miraculously fed them, filling their cups for the day. While he retreated to pray, he sent his disciples ahead of him by boat at night. When a storm arose, they thought they would drown. They saw Jesus walking on water and he stopped to calm the storm.
When they got to the other side again, a crowd was waiting for them, hungry and desperate for food. Instead of food, Jesus gave them a speech about him being the bread of life. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:50-51 ESV). Sounds, um, interesting, but what does this have to do with getting a square meal? When the people became upset, Jesus doubled down: “Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” (vs. 58). Not only did he say it, but he said all this in a synagogue!
Jesus told them that there were some who would not believe that he has the words of eternal life. He then said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the father” (vs. 65). John records that after this, many of his disciples turned and no longer walked with him. Jesus asked his remaining 12 apostles if they wanted to leave too. Peter asked where they would go, since he had the words of eternal life. Jesus really is the only way. We may think there are other ways to heaven, but we are only fooling ourselves. We need to keep feasting on the bread of life!
Consistency is incredibly important. We depend on consistency, and consistent people are dependable. Without consistency we have chaos. Consistency often feels boring and mundane. Often we like to feel accomplished, so we thrive when times are good and deflate when times lack movement. Many people leave churches that are routine and migrate to churches that are full of life and energy. But is this the wisest move?
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he addresses multiple sources of all kinds of divisions in the church. The church was on the brink of extinction because of all the division, and there was not much that was appealing about Christianity in Corinth.
Towards the end of the letter, Paul urges the saints to focus on their eternal destination. He wrote, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50 ESV). He points out that death is swallowed up in victory for the Christian. He concludes: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (vs. 58).
Amen and amen! Paul warned the Corinthians about following the “super apostles.” It’s not about getting caught up in the emotions of these powerful speakers, but about being consistent in living out their faith and serving others.
Paul told the church in Corinth that “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:3-5 ESV). Paul lays out, in no uncertain terms, the reason why it’s so important: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (vs. 13-14).
Christ’s resurrection had to take place in order for our resurrection to take place. This is why we celebrate! The resurrection means that we will be given a new heavenly body, and “the glory of the heavenly is one of a kind” (vs. 39). Living in the reality of the resurrection means that we no longer fear death. This is why Paul quotes Hosea: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (vs. 55).
As Christians, we don’t hide from death. We embrace it as part of a new life with Christ. Paul says that nothing can grow unless there is first death. He likens our body to seeds that are sown in a field. Nothing can take root and grow up until it dies and is sown into the ground. In light of the resurrection, Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (vs. 58).